Beyond families and providers, Great Start to Quality helps community partners by ensuring that Michigan children are ready for school and that the state spends its limited funds wisely. Consistent standards and unbiased measuring tools provided by Great Start to Quality make Michigan's early childhood system accountable to taxpayers, private investors, parents, providers and most importantly, the children it serves.
"Skill begets skill; motivation begets motivation.
Early failure begets later failure."
- James Heckman, Nobel Laureate in economics at the University of Chicago
Without intervention, many will never catch up, putting them at higher risk of dropping out, committing juvenile and adult crime, teen pregnancy, mental health problems and welfare dependence.
What does that mean for our future workforce?
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Greatstartforkids.org is Michigan’s information clearinghouse on early childhood activities. Find the latest early childhood information, innovative tools and much more.
How You Can Help
By visiting this website, you've taken the first step in helping Michigan children succeed. But there's more you can do to make our state better for children and families. Keeping up on the issues affecting your family, voting with children in mind, exhibiting leadership for your children and other parents are all critical ways to contribute.
The key is to get involved in some way as a champion for children.
Select the choice that best describes you from the menu below to see more ideas.
ARCHITECTS, DEVELOPERS AND THE BUILDING TRADES (CONTRACTORS, CARPENTERS, ELECTRICIANS, PAINTERS, PLUMBERS, ETC.) CAN:
- Assess the condition of playgrounds and facilities currently used for early childhood programs according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission's national Standards for Playground Safety.
- Volunteer to repair or renovate child care and preschool playgrounds and facilities.
- Design and build low-cost facilities for low-cost child care, preschools and families.
- Use non-toxic building materials.
- Incorporate early childhood facility design and construction into architecture school curriculum and building trades training and apprenticeship programs.
- Publish articles in professional journals about the importance of high quality child care and preschool and how a wide range of individuals and groups in the building trades can make a difference.
BUSINESSES AND OTHER EMPLOYERS CAN:
- Inform employees about the importance of high quality child care and preschool, and provide parenting information on bulletin boards, in company newsletters, on electronic networks, or in literature in paycheck envelopes.
- Provide employees with family insurance covering prenatal and maternity care, well child and mental health care and immunizations.
- Learn about best practices in the work/family arena.
- Improve the company's bottom line by learning about best practices in the the work/family arena.
- Review policies and practices to better support families.
- Offer flexible work schedules and telecommuting options.
- Provide high quality on-site child care or underwrite some child care costs.
- Conduct surveys or focus groups to learn about employee needs.
- Invite local speakers to offer parenting seminars at the work sites.
- Honor and reward employees who volunteer to provide or improve early childhood programs and services.
- Serve on community planning and improvement committees.
- Volunteer to serve on the boards supporting early care and learning or health and family support programs.
- Support family programs by sharing expertise (accounting skills, management training, public relations, etc.) or providing in-kind support (copying, faxing, mailing or printing).
- Talk with policymakers about the importance of the early years and how supporting them helps business.
- Inform the public about the importance of the early years on company ads, promotions and products.
- Work with other community partners (United Way, service providers, government, media, philanthropy, faith communities, schools, libraries, unions, etc.) to expand and improve health services, early care and education, and family support/parent education programs for families with young children.
- Work with media to publicize local programs that offer parent education, family support, early care and education and health services.
CIVIC, COMMUNITY AND PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS CAN:
Educate organizational members and the public about the importance of high quality child care and preschool.
Share information about state and local early childhood needs and resources.
Organize referral services and/or help lines for families with young children.
Take on a project to build or refurbish neighborhood playgrounds or improve child care facilities.
Organize volunteers to work in early childhood programs, mentor young children, or read stories to children in libraries, child care centers, preschool programs and hospitals.
Celebrate and honor state and community leaders and organizations that make a difference for young children and their families.
COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES CAN:
Create on-campus parenting and high quality child care programs for students and staff.
Establish curricula that encourage family-centered and collaborative practice among educators, health, and family education and support professionals.
Gather faculty and students across various disciplines and departments to share resources and research and develop interdisciplinary programs and courses related to early childhood.
Encourage faculty to incorporate early childhood into their research.
Support and get involved in local, regional, and national efforts to raise the qualifications of individuals providing services for young children ad their families.
Offer courses and education programs for child care providers and early childhood educators at convenient times and places.
Help evaluate the quality of local and regional early childhood services.
Encourage and support students, faculty and staff who volunteer in early childhood health, education and care, ad family support/parent education programs.
FAITH-BASED COMMUNITIES CAN:
- Share information about the importance of high quality child care and preschool.
- Offer parenting books as part of the congregation's library.
- Celebrate families raising young children.
- Sponsor or allot space for parenting, family support, health care, child care or preschool programs.
- Adopt a local early childhood program, offering financial support and other resources, use of facilities, and/or volunteers from your congregation.
- Organize parenting classes and provide child care for parents who attend.
- Inform the public about the importance of high quality child care and preschool and local resources to assist families with young children.
GOVERNMENTS (AT ALL LEVELS) CAN:
- Invest in programs proven to foster school readiness in young children and supports for their families.
- Create incentives for public and private organizations to expand and improve services to families with young children.
- Require ongoing collaboration and coordination among agencies that administer early childhood programs and services.
- Collect and share data about the needs of young children and their families.
- Document and share information on the cost and effectiveness of programs serving young children and their families. Benchmark results of these efforts.
- Work with Great Start Collaboratives and Great Start Parent Coalitions to address early childhood issues.
- Work with the Children's Leadership Council of Michigan business leaders to investigate best practices and new methods for financing early childhood programs and services.
- Support research that holds promise for improving results for young children and their families.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT CAN:
Develop legislation, public policies, budgets, taxes, and financing mechanisms designed to assist families with young children.
Provide programs and facilities for young children and their families.
Use planning and zoning data about children and families to align regulations and facilities (parks, sidewalks, child care homes, housing, etc.)
Collaborate with community partners, other local governments, schools, and non-profit organizations to expand and improve programs and services for young children and their families.
Advocate for young children and their families with county, state and federal governments.
Work with county, state and federal regulators to ensure municipal regulations on fire, safety, and buildings are the same and/or complementary when applied to facilities for young children.
Link services and programs for young children and their families with maternal and child health, immunizations, and other child health and development resources.
HOSPITALS AND HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS CAN:
- Provide on-site parenting and high quality child care programs for hospital staff.
- Educate families, patients and staff about the importance of quality child care and preschool, early brain development, and the importance of every child having a primary health care provider or "medical home."
- Work with community organizations, media and early childhood professional organizations to promote and provide immunizations and health exams for young children.
- Provide expectant and new parents with information about maternal health including mental health.
- Provide facilities and materials for prenatal and parenting classes, quality child care and preschool programs, and other services that support healthy early childhood development.
- Collaborate with community partners to expand and improve local health, parenting , family support and early care and education programs.
- Provide telephone or on-site consultant services on health and safety issues for early childhood programs.
- Use professional journals, conferences and meetings to inform peers about key issues in early child development, including new research on brain development.
LAW ENFORCEMENT CAN:
- Inform other members of the law enforcement community, and the public at large, about the importance of high quality child care and preschool and the wisdom of prevention.
- Support and promote public policies and legislation assisting families with young children and preventing child abuse.
- Collaborate with schools, health care providers, early care and development programs, and family support/parent education programs to expand and improve services to families with young children.
- Use professional training programs and materials to educate law enforcement personnel about child abuse prevention and intervention and other relevant issues in early child development.
- Train police officers to work collaboratively with social workers, health care providers, and other professionals who interact with young children and their families.
- Publicize the importance of high quality child care and preschool.
- Promote community, child and family activities and initiatives.
- Publicize special collections of parenting materials, as well as resources and books for young children.
- Provide meeting space for community groups working to improve the quality and availability of programs and services supporting families with young children.
- Sponsor or host parenting and family literacy classes.
- Offer family programs in early care and learning, and provide family resource centers and other community settings.
- Encourage families to read to children beginning at birth and throughout childhood.
- Host story times for the youngest children and their caregivers.
- Help parents gain access to online resources about parenting and child development.
- Share online library services with early childhood programs.
PARENTS AND FAMILIES CAN:
- Become an advocate for their child. Special skills are not necessary, just a voice and desire to be hear.
- Talk with legislators and elected officials, call radio talk shows, and write letters to the editor about early childhood issues and the needs of children and families.
- Join or form parent support organizations.
- Support and mentor other families.
- Learn more about early childhood development, including early brain development, and how you can foster positive growth in your child.
- Read parenting education materials, attend seminars or courses.
- Ask for help when needed.
- Provide long-term support for early childhood system development efforts.
- Fund, sponsor and convene community mobilization efforts to expand and improve the quality of programs and services available to young children and their families.
- Fund projects that demonstrate or replicate successful early childhood projects.
- Fund public awareness efforts.
- Provide low- or no-interest loans for quality improvement efforts by early childhood programs, including renovation of facilities.
- Inform policymakers about the importance of high quality child care and preschool, local needs and conditions, and ways to improve the quality and coordination of services for young children and their families.
- Form funding partnerships with peers to leverage or generate new resources for early childhood programs and services.
- Use funding programs creatively to meet a wide spectrum of needs experienced by families with young children.
- Inform staff and parents about the impact of high quality child care and preschool on school readiness. Make this information available, to the greatest extent possible, to parents who are not fluent in English.
- Partner with neighborhood early childhood programs to create effective transition to school.
- Incorporate information about parenting and child development, including new insights into early brain development, into the curricula of carious content areas at all grade levels.
- Provide programs helping teen parents finish school and learn parenting skills.
- Collaborate with community partners to expand and improve services assisting families with young children.
- Include information on early childhood development in school libraries.
- Include early care and education and family center facilities in new school construction projects and reallocate vacant classrooms for such programs when available.
- Offer indoor and outdoor space to early childhood programs.
SENIORS AND RETIREES CAN:
- Volunteer to read to young children at libraries, hospitals, schools, child care centers, preschools and family resource centers.
- Volunteer to assist community organizations, agencies, and programs serving young children and their families.
- Help recent immigrants navigate and gain access to programs and services for their young children.
- Serve on the boards of non-profit organizations that provide programs and services for young children and their families.
- Learn and share information about early childhood development, including brain development.
- Talk with legislators and elected officials, call radio talk shows, and write letters to the editor about early childhood needs and issues.
SERVICE PROVIDERS IN A WIDE RANGE OF FIELDS (HEALTH CARE, FAMILY SUPPORT/PARENT EDUCATION, EARLY CARE AND EDUCATION, CHILD WELFARE, ETC.) CAN:
- Educate families, staff and the public about the importance of high quality child care and preschool. Make a concerted effort to reach those who are not fluent in English or are isolated from the community by geographic, cultural, social, or economic factors.
- Involve a wide range of families and community members in designing and evaluating programs and services.
- Collaborate with other service providers and community partners on an ongoing basis to expand, coordinate, and improve early childhood programs and services. Share newsletters, sponsor shared staff training or develop new projects together.
- Make facilities safe and inviting for young children and their parents and caregivers.
- Make collaborative efforts to help parents identify and seek early assistance for young children with disabilities.
UNIONS AND WORK ASSOCIATION CAN:
- Use union magazines or newsletters to inform members about the importance of high quality child care and preschool.
- Sponsor local speakers to offer parenting and child development seminars at work sites.
- Survey or conduct focus groups to assess members’ child care needs. Present results at union meetings.
- Develop an agenda for supporting parents with young children. Discuss the agenda at labor/management meetings.
- Address child care, child health and parenting support issues as part of the union’s political agenda.
- Honor and reward members who volunteer to provide or improve early childhood programs and services.
- Use the talent and skill of members to assist neighborhood child care, family support, child health and parenting programs with construction, maintenance, health care, technology, etc.
- Work with the local United Way, service providers, government, media, philanthropy, faith communities, schools, libraries, employers, etc. to expand and improve health services, early care and education, and family support/parent education programs for families with young children.
- Take seriously the vital contribution they make as role models for younger siblings and other young children in their neighborhood.
- Volunteer to read to younger children at preschools, family child care homes, libraries, church, school, family centers or hospitals.
- Work through youth service groups (Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Campfire Girls and Boys Clubs, 4H Youth Development Groups, Kiwanis, settlement houses, etc.) to volunteer at area child care and preschools, health and parenting, and family support programs.
- Photograph, draw, paint or sculpt young children and their families for community awareness exhibits and activities.
- Learn about early childhood development and how they can help young children grow positively.
Common Questions from Partners
Q. Why is quality child care/preschool so important?
A. A child's brain grows more in its first five years of life than it ever will again. By age 5, 90% of the brain's wiring has been set for life. How it is set depends on the child's early experiences. Loving and supportive people and settings help the brain grow. Learn More
Q. What fiscal proof is there that early learning and care makes a difference?
A. Studies show that every $1 spent on high quality services for low-income children saves as much as $16 on welfare, criminal justice, special education and other social expenses. In 2009 alone, Michigan saved $1.1 billion due to investments made in the state's school readiness efforts over the past 25 years. Learn More
Q. I'm not a parent or provider, so how does Great Start to Quality affect me?
A. Improving quality is about making sure children are ready to learn when they enter school, giving them the best chance of success and strengthening a vital part of Michigan's workforce. Learn More
Q. What help is available to assist me and my business in understanding the ratings?
A. Great Start to Quality provides local Resource Centers throughout the state with trained consultants and experts. Staff also provide community outreach in their region and are available to make presentations to groups, boards, companies and communities about the importance of high quality early learning and care for school readiness. Learn More